Facebook Twitter

SKIN TESTS ADVISED FOR SOME STUDENTS AFTER DAVIS GIRL GETS TB

SHARE SKIN TESTS ADVISED FOR SOME STUDENTS AFTER DAVIS GIRL GETS TB

School and health officials are tracking down people who had contact with a Davis High School student diagnosed last week with active tuberculosis.

The female student's name and age were not released. Health and school officials were told of the case Thursday, according to Dr. James Saunders, director of the county health department.The district sent letters to parents of students who were in contact with the girl, asking them to arrange for skin tests by the county health department.

Saunders estimated up to 70 people could be asked to undergo testing, ranging from family members to fellow students, teachers and school staff members.

The county sees two to three active TB cases a year, according to Mary Meredith, head of the health department's nursing division, but this is the only student case that she can remember.

"Usually it's found among either the younger population, preschool age, or older people," Meredith said.

Both Meredith and Saunders emphasized the risk to the general population, even those exposed to the TB victim, are minimal.

The health department does 2,000 TB skin tests a year among high-risk persons, getting about 75 positive skin tests, Saunders said. From those, only two to three have active TB.

"It's a lazy disease, really," Saunders said. "You don't get it from germs on a doorknob, from sharing bathroom facilities or even from hugging someone with TB. The germs are spread by aerosolizing them, from coughing or sneezing.

"The exposure has to be prolonged, has to be in an enclosed area for a long time," Saunders said. "Even among family members exposed to a carrier, the people who have intimate contact with a carrier, the infection rate is only about 30 percent."

"We don't want people to panic. There's nothing to panic about," Meredith said.

Persons who react positively to the skin test will get a chest X-ray to determine if they have an active case, Meredith said.

A positive skin test only means a person has been exposed to the disease, not that they have it, Meredith said. Active cases are diagnosed by chest X-rays.

Persons testing positive will be given preventive medication to keep the disease from becoming active, Saunders said.

Active cases also respond well to treatment, Saunders said, with the disease becoming non-infectious after two to three weeks of treatment.